The question of how to make model trees is one I get asked a lot and it’s one for which there are many many answers. Model trees can be made out of so many things it’s hard to list them all here. You can buy kits to make up specific trees from Hornby, Woodland Scenics, Faller, Noch and others, or you can make them yourself using stuff you find around your house and the countryside where you live. Whichever way you choose, trees are an essential feature of any Model Railway or Railroad layout… You need lots of them, period!
So here are a couple of easy guides on how to make model trees cheaply…
How To Make Model Trees From Stuff You Find In Your Back Yard
The question of how to make model trees is one that can be easily answered by simply going for a walk. Take a walk around your garden or a local park or woodland and look for small twigs which have a similar structure to the branches of large trees. It’s amazing how quickly you can find them. Just one hour spent walking around woodlands and you will find enough twigs to create hundreds of trees.
Look for nice, dried twigs, so summer time is probably best. This will help avoid problems with mould etc later on. Plants with very small leaves can also work very well. The best time to look for these is in Autumn as the leaves will have dried out little.
Once you have your twigs, cut them to size with scissors or secateurs. Now decorate them with your chosen foliage. You can buy specialist model tree foliage from your local hobby shop or you can make it by using old green sponges which you can colour with acrylic paint. Place the foam and some acrylic paint in a blender and whizz it up on full power to create a nice, fine foliage.
Dry the chopped sponge in a warm oven and then break up any lumps that have formed. Glue the foliage to the twigs by coating the twig ends in PVA glue. Wait for a few minutes until the glue goes tacky and then dip the twig end into the pieces of dried sponge or tree foliage. Voila… you have a tree!
Add the finishing touches with a few coats of spray paint and dry brushing with a selection of greens and browns and you will end up with some great looking trees for your model railway.
Make Model Trees From Wire Or Electrical Cable
Multi-strand copper electrical cable is a fantastic material to make model trees out of. Any old flex or cord will work just fine. The copper wire is easy to manipulate and allows you to get exactly the right shape of tree within just a few short minutes.
The pvc outer sheath on the cable can even be used as the trunk. If you’re very very careful with a sharp craft knife or scalpel, you can carve small areas of pvc away on the truck to give it a more realistic appearance. Where you want the branches to start you just strip away the PVC and manipulate the inner cores of the cable to the form shape you want. Twist some of the cable together between your finger and thumb to make different sized branches. Once you’re happy with the look of your basic tree, give it a coat of brown acrylic paint to simulate the bark (pay attention here to the real life version of the tree you’re trying to create so your colours are as realistic as possible.
As with the twig method above apply PVA to the branches, leaving some areas bare for realism, then add your dried sponge or tree foliage to create leaves.